Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Magellan's Cross & Sto. Nino Basilica in Cebu

The most recognized tourist site of Cebu City is the Magellan's Cross, housed in a small chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes Street (named after Magellan's Spanish name), just in front of the city hall. The small chapel built in 1834 receives many tourists and religious practitioners. It is also included on the city's official seal.

A sign below the cross claims that the original cross is encased inside the tindalo wooden cross that is found in the center of this chapel. This is to protect the original cross from people who chipped away parts of the cross for souvenir purposes or in the belief that the cross possesses miraculous powers. However, some people (including myself) believe that the original cross had been destroyed or had disappeared after Magellan's death, and the cross is a replica that was planted there by the Spaniards after they successfully colonized the Philippines.

On the chapel's ceiling is a mural depicting the planting of the cross by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers as ordered by Magellan. I tried to google who its painter was, but I could not find any.

Beside the cross' chapel is the Sto. Nino Basilica, the home of the famous Sto. Nino image paraded in Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, and Dinagyang festivals in Visayas region. The basilica was built purportedly on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño, a sculpture depicting the Holy Child Jesus found by Spanish explorers in 1565, unscathed in a burned wooden box which was left behind during the 1521 Magellan expedition.

The first church structure built in 1565-1566 with earth, hard wood, and nipa, was destroyed by fire. Same fate happened on the rebuilt church in 1628. This present massive church made of stone was built in 1735-1739, and was elevated to the rank of minor basilica in 1965 by Pope Paul VI during the 4th centenary of the christianization of the Philippines.

During our brief visit, a mass was being celebrated on the concrete plaza on the left side of the church. There were so many people during and even after the mass, showing the people's devotion to their faith. Instead of doing the sign of the cross as what we in Luzon usually do when passing a church, Cebuanos happily wave their hand whenever they pass the Sto. Nino image. on the top of the tower below. By the way, the infant Jesus image and this basilica are both recognized as the oldest religious relic and oldest church in the country.

The church also has very nice interiors, proving that the Augustinian order managing the church did well in preserving the historical church's features.

The basilica has one of the best-looking retablo, with its intricately carved baroque design housing the statues of the Christian deities and saints in the altar.

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1 comment:

  1. thank you for featuring the best of Cebu. More power always ;-)